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Rotary Club of Santa Monica Hosts Exciting 16th Annual Wine Fest

A part of the committee that put the amazing event together poses with coordinator, Andrea Gressinger, second from right. Not shown, Co-chair Vicky Curtis.

Unless you’ve worked on one of these gala events, it may be hard to imagine all of the hours of work it takes on the part of many Club members to make the event a success. For example, finding the venue and working with the staff there, choosing the entertainment and menu, writing the program, getting donations of live and silent auction items, writing the descriptions of the items, getting sponsors, finding a featured charity, setting and cleaning up afterwards, etc., just to list part of what is involved.

Andrea Gressinger and her Co-chair Vicky Curtis have coordinated the event for the last several years and they seem to make it more successful every year. Members of their committee were Ken Waltzer, Mike Kallhoff, Suzan Allbritton, Carol Powell, Lan Nguyen, Karin Wallerstein, Kera Snell, Kinan Aljamal, Cynthia Kraus, Joe Metoyer, Diane Margolin, and Sharon Gavin.

Club President Ken Waltzer shared his thoughts after the event. “Our club held the 16th Annual Santa Monica Rotary Wine Fest two nights ago. And, what a night it was! We held it in a brand-new venue, The Skirball Cultural Center, which helped us substantially elevate the experience. The elegance of the attendees, decked out in their best evening attire, matched the beauty of the room.

I suspect the Skirball will be our preferred venue for years to come. Although it will be a week or so before we have final numbers, it already looks as if this will be the highest-grossing Wine Fest ever! How far we have come from the first Wine Fest 16 years ago that we held in Con Oyler’s backyard, and which raised $5,000.

We’re now regularly raising $100,000 plus. During the main event, we had five wineries who generously poured selections from their portfolios. They were The Boisset Collection, Falkner Winery, Vinos Los Angeles (Wines of Mexico), Wine Guy & Wine Gal, and Europa Village.

The live auction followed and included a wildly successful Fund-a-Need for the Guardian Scholars of Santa Monica College. To make it real, we heard from Dr. Debra Joseph Locke, Dean of Special Programs, and Guardian Scholar Student Jeanee Keaton, who will be graduating from SMC with Honors and will then be transferring to either UCLA or USC.”

For more information on this event and my very special Rotary Club of Santa Monica, go to the Santa Monica Daily Press issue from March 12 for a wonderful story by Thomas Leffler.

By Diane Margolin

Publisher, The Santa Monica Star

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